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Len’s Legacy

Yesterday Mayor Len Brown announced that he would not stand again for the mayoralty next year.

Len Brown has announced that he has decided not to seek another term as Mayor of Auckland.

Mr Brown says: “It has been my absolute honour to be given the privilege to be able to serve our people as the first Mayor of a united Auckland.

“I was proud to be inaugurated as the first Mayor of the super city in 2010 and humbled to be re-elected for a second term three years later.

“However after discussions with my wife Shan and our daughters, I have decided nine years as Mayor, first of Manukau and then Auckland, are enough.

“Our opponents wrote us off from day one, but the achievements during the first five years of the new Auckland have been extraordinary.

“Auckland is more confident and positive about its future than it has been in decades. We are becoming a true international city and the symbols of our optimism are all around us.

“Electric trains, double decker buses, a growing network of cycleways, new ferry routes and most of all construction is about to begin on the City Rail Link – the most important piece of infrastructure to be built in Auckland in decades.

“Auckland is working better with government than it has in years with the Housing Accord enabling thousands of extra homes to be built and the Auckland Transport Alignment Project focussing on building vital transport infrastructure.

“We have opened up the waterfront and award winning civic amenities have been built and are now being enjoyed by people across Auckland.

“Our swimming pools are free for our kids, people will be able to cycle and walk across SkyPath on the Harbour Bridge, we have saved iconic heritage landmarks such as the St James, and that most iconic of Auckland landmarks, Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill will soon have a tree back on the summit.

“All this while the council remains committed to low rates increases, the sale of non-strategic assets, capping council debt and keeping our credit rating remains at a level many sovereign states would be jealous of.

“Aucklanders have my assurance that my commitment to this job will continue until the last day of my mayoralty. There is still enormous amount we need to achieve during the coming year.

“My best wishes to those who decide to stand for what is one of the most all-consuming jobs in the nation. Tamaki Makaurau is an extraordinary place which will place extraordinary demands on whoever takes up the challenge.”

Given the way Len and many council decisions have been portrayed in the media over – especially over the last few years – he has clearly made the only sensible choice available to him.

As the first Mayor of an amalgamated Auckland I think the Len and the council often faced some very unique challenges and ones that won’t exist for any future mayor. These include the creation of the first Auckland Plan, the Unitary Plan, the standardisation of services across the region and of course combining eight separate rating systems in to one. All of these areas were some of the key drivers behind the creation of a single council and the process of making the new council omelette was always going to require a few eggs to be broken.

On rates where Len and the council are most heavily criticised, the move to a single rating system – where everyone properties rates are determined by the same criteria – the changes have been taking place gradually over around four years. That has seen rates for some increase above the regional average (new property valuations have had an impact here too) while they have actually decreased or stayed about the same for others. With the migration out of the way there aren’t likely to be the level of increases the media have portrayed in recent years.

Simply by virtue of all of these disruptive changes having already taken place any future mayor and council is going to look much more stable and in control of what’s going on even if they carried on exactly as things are. Also let’s not forget that Len had only one of 21 votes on the council for decisions. If all of the other councillors didn’t agree with the changes then they could have voted against them.

Right now Len is seen as a lightning rod for those upset with change to focus on however I do think that history will much kinder to him. The city has come a long way in just five years and we’ve probably witnessed some of the most dramatic change the city has seen. We’ve seen

  • the city become more walkable through developments like the Shared Spaces
  • an internationally award winning waterfront development at Wynyard Quarter
  • electric trains have been rolled out across Auckland’s network and over the five years of the council rail patronage has increased by 65%
  • bus patronage has increased by 22% and double deckers have started to be rolled out
  • ferry patronage has increased by 24% with new routes rolled out to Hobsonville Point and Beach Haven.
  • the start of good quality cycling infrastructure e.g. on Beach Rd
  • the government and council now working together on actually aligning views on transport with the recently announced ATAP process.

Of course some of those changes were already under way before the council came into being and so perhaps even more important is to also think about the next few years to see what the council have achieved.

By far the biggest achievement has to be the City Rail Link. Len has consistently pushed for the project since elected in 2010 despite the government not being supportive of it. After they agreed to the project back in 2013 he has continued to advocate for it to start earlier. The council have backed that and Albert St will be a hive of activity from about May next year as digging starts on the first section. Further we’ve had lots of suggestions from various people that the government might soon be ready to announce earlier funding.

In addition to the CRL we’ve lots of other big changes coming in the next few years. This includes:

  • Over $200 million of new investment in cycleways over three years (combined with government funding).
  • Over 50 double decker buses will be on road over the next year or so to increase capacity on already busy routes.
  • The new bus network which will dramatically improve buses for most people.
  • Integrated fares making most public transport trips cheaper and easier.
  • Auckland Transport is looking at Light Rail for many routes on the isthmus as a direct response to the need to make public transport better and the city more people friendly
  • The council have combined two CCOs to form Panuku Development Auckland which should see the council more involved in urban development across the region.

This is far from an exhaustive list but certainly the future looks positive thanks to the work and focus that Len and the council have had.

In saying all of this not everything has been great. Perhaps the biggest concern I’ve had and continue to do have is that Len has spent a lot of time trying to please everyone. He’s tried to do it all, for example in the Auckland Plan instead of making some tough calls as to which projects get included as priorities the council have opted to just do everything.

Still on the general balance of things I think Len has done a fairly decent job and pushed a vision for Auckland that has been positive. His legacy will be that Auckland will end up in much better place than it was when he became mayor and many future generations will benefit from the push to make Auckland a more liveable city.

125 comments to Len’s Legacy

  • Ran Derson

    Len’s a lightning rod for CRL criticism too. The “no more rates” press release blamed Len’s ego for building the city rail link “well in advance of the need for the project”.

    I just hope Auckland doesn’t vote for a mayoral candidate that threatens to pull the plug on the CRL, or try to save costs by cutting out elements of the CRL.

    • Darius

      I actually think there is next to no risk of that. Remember that even Len’s opponents backed the CRL last time(s) around, if in a decidedly lukewarm fashion. By now, we have even the central govt backing it, with disagreement solely on timing. So the risk that the CRL will fail through local body election shenigans is very low, thankfully. Plus, there will be a certain inevitability, once digging up Albert St has started…

      • Greg N

        Listen until 2 tunnels are bored end to end and station built to plan and are opened, anything can happen in the guise of cost-cutting.

        Worst case we could end up with a single track CRL tunnel with no stations besides Aotea if we get a wishy-washy right-lead mayor in next year who then seeks to relitigate the whole thing (Like Banks would).

        If the right wing council can sow the belief that the council is wavering on CRL then Central Government will keep its wallet in its pants for CRL funding and push ahead with the AWHC instead.

        And Auckland will be left to do another make do job for the next 50 years.

        • David B.

          That’s true Greg and (as I think you imply) there is a geographical divide in how Aucklanders view Len based on where they live. Inner city residents love him because he’s providing great public transport plans and reductions in rates, but not over on the Shore where Len will be remembered for massive rates increases that came without increased services.

          It’s complacent to regard the CRL as a done deal, and there’s a real risk that the memory of those rates increases could translate into the election of a National Party candidate peddling an argument that by pushing ahead with the AWHC ratepayers are finally getting something back for those huge rates increases.

          • conan

            The AWHC is paid for by central government. So you aren’t getting anything back there.

            Could you provide proof that the 20% of ratepayers on the shore aren’t getting value for your rates compared to others? I had a $1200 increase in rates this year and while not over the moon about it, I don’t doubt that the council is providing a generally good, cost effective service.

            And it’s nothing compared to what I pay in income tax…

  • Bob Bingham

    Most people seem to want lower rates and keep things as they were thirty years ago but life has moved on. You can’t run a city on a village budget and you are not going to find cheap houses with big gardens in the city centre. It’s a big city now and needs to be run like one with fast and efficient transport. The Mayor needs to look at the big picture not just a few cents off the rates.

  • mfwic

    We deserved better. He got in simply because he wasn’t John Banks and because Andrew Williams peed on a tree. He had already bought fish and chips on his Manukau credit card and what do you know he clocks up $6000 in free rooms from Sky City and $32,000 in free upgrades. Yes he has copped the blame for charging us higher rates bills but even that I could put up with (although I will complain a lot). But who wants a mayor that scores free stuff out of a company that then applies to do build a convention centre. He can’t leave soon enough.

    • simon

      You do realise that $6000 in free rooms etc is a total oxymoron.

    • Steve C

      Andrew Williams was never a serious contender

    • I literally could not care what he did in his private life. He was instrumental in delivering the CRL, I don’t see who he has sex with or how he spends a fraction of his spare time as being relevant. Being a mayor of a city is incredibly consuming, of time, mind and body, they deserve what few perks there are.

      I’m not saying that it’s not important to be faithful and respectable, but given the choice between a mayor who delivers what he promises but is unfaithful and a mayor who’s first loyalty is to his wife, but politically sleeps with whoever pays the highest doller, I’m going to go for someone who stands by their values and their platform.

      I would be honoured to have his autograph, and I’m immensely pleased with what he’s given auckland.

  • kelvin

    CRL risked being cancelled if the new mayor does not share the same vision.

  • Guy

    As a Wellingtonian, I’d like to say thanks to Len Brown also – for all the reasons you set out above. We’ve been wanting Auckland to wake up and step up for years, and the move to super City status seems, to me, to have been a good thing. You’re (as one united city) now punching at, or above your weight, whereas before, the whole “collection of villages not really talking to each other” thing was not really working. The public transport push from both Len Brown and from TransportBlog has been most welcome to see: the hideous days of John Banks are now over for good, and whoever takes over next as Mayor, I reckon they have a city that is left in good hands.

  • Max

    By the time the CRL gets opened, most of you will already remember him much more fondly. I think we should consider moving Dove Myer Robinson’s statue from Aotea Square to one of the new CRL station entrances, and have a Len Brown statue sitting opposite at the other side. Some of his opponents will seethe, but hey, his “toy train set” tunnel as they called it will be what brings our CBD into the 21st century. That deserves a statue (once it opens, mind, once it opens…).

    https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dove-Myer_Robinson_Aotea.jpg?uselang=en-gb

    • mfwic

      That is a brilliant idea. Just like they have Poets Corner in Westminster Abbey we could have Philanderers Way.

      • conan

        Are you suggesting Dove Myer Robinson was a philanderer?

        • Guy

          Te Ara says: “The Robinsons divorced in 1932, and on 7 December 1937 he married 17-year-old Veda Alice Davis in Auckland; the marriage lasted only a month and they divorced in 1940. By this time Robinson was living with Bettine (Betty) Williams, a seamstress, who on 15 March 1941, in Auckland, became his third wife.”

          http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/5r19/robinson-dove-myer

          So, yes, I think there is a good chance that he couldn’t keep it in his pants….

        • mfwic

          When I went to work at Auckland City Council in 1987 there were ladies there whom he had pestered when they were younger. The story everyone heard about him was that the night his house caught fire they got his wife out but couldn’t find him. He emerged from the maids cottage.
          On the subject of Len I dont care what he did other than to make jokes about it. But I do care about the hotel rooms, the unpaid upgrades and the credit card.

          • Though if you think about it, the whole saga means that Len Brown is the perfect mayor to welcome Charles and Camilla on their royal tour. They should get along like a house on fire.

      • Max

        You may be surprised, but I don’t give a toss. Consenting adults, not my thing to judge. I only care about what it did to his ability to govern, and there it was pretty foolish.

  • Steve C

    I think Len’s greatest achievement was simply in pulling a potentially divisive council together in a way that a more confrontational Banks simply could not have done, in fact I doubt that Banks would have even understood the need for that cohesiveness

    what I can’t understand is the degree of rancour in some quarters, his indiscretion was deeply dissapointing, but much of the opposition I saw (duck calls at Northcote’s Chinese New Year) was simple rudeness

    • Stu Donovan

      I agree with this comment. Len Brown did a great job of coordinating efforts across a new and fairly ideologically diverse council.

      Yes his personal actions were disappointing, but more because of the pain his family must have suffered than any reflection on his effectiveness as Mayor. I think many of the people who make a big deal of Len’s affair should take a step back and realise that politicians of all stripes have, for many years, had affairs; it’s just they get away with it. Politics is an unhealthy environment, and such environments result in regrettable behaviour. I’m not sanctioning it, and I wish it hadn’t happened, but simply trying to put it in context.

  • Given the absolute certainty of Phil Goff becoming Auckland mayor I’d expect things to continue forwards. It will be more “Brownism” but without Mr Brown.

    No danger at all of the CRL getting cancelled, it’s pretty much a done deal

    • Guy

      “Absolute certainty?” How so? Granted, the right wing still need to put forward a halfway decent candidate, but surely that’s not impossible? There’s a lot of right wingers living up in Auckland these days…

      • Greg N

        And theres a lot of right wing whingers living up in Auckland these days too, but the have to get their collective and individual acts together first and agree that one of them will stand in their collective steads.

        I can’t see Goff as other than a sensible choice and safe pair of hands for Auckland – especially while there is a National Government on power on Welliington. As has been pointed out before, NZ Inc will benefit when there is a natural politcal tension between Central Government and Auckland.

        Even if you don’t want a left leaning mayor, you’ve got to give it to Goff that he can and does get things done with the Central Governments of the day – he’s been a MP for too long to not know the art of compromise.

        Brown has indeed championed the CRL and transport policies, even if he was not always seen to be backing the popular choice.

        But wasn’t he also one of the former Manukau Council folks who voted for the Manukau Station to be stopped several hundred metres short of the shopping centre too because they didn’t want the cost of the tunnel?

        How short sighted is that going to look in the future. Along with his failure to “keep his trousers zipped up” that will define a large chunk of his legacy.

        • RB

          I’m one of your “right wing whingers” as you so eloquently put it. Just letting you know that a number of those of your stereotype actually have no beef with Goff from the ‘loopy left’ (evens now). When he stops politicizing (he was out of his depth in government) that he is actually quite a sensible bloke and would make a good mayor if he can pull the fractious council together,

        • Ted F

          Please don’t encourage the right, unless it is to resurrect Banksie. We don’t need anymore of the problems we have now and we still need to watch closely the appointed boards of the CCO’s as they don’t really seem to be CC’s.

        • Ted F

          One of the problems with the super city is the size of the Councillor’s electorates. We have 2 Councillors for an electorate greater than 100,00 voters. This precludes all but the well heeled or those with substantial support organisations making themselves known to their electors. It is especially hard for them to present their policies. We only had one public meeting in our area. This is not local Government. I’m still worried that the right will have the funds to pull the election of a right leaning council out of the chaos.

          • Ted, don’t forget you have about 20 local board members supporting those Councillors.

          • Steve Cable

            unfortunately”supporting” is not a term that can be universally applied, particularly in my area, Kaipatiki. here amongst the good, we have some of the toxic remnants of the old North Shore City councillors, who deliberately spread lies and gloom during the consultation on the unitary plan

          • Ted F

            Thank you Imperial Advocacy league and Steve, They may support the Councillor however they are not able to build a profile in the electorate in the same way as those with money can. I am not a fan of these big electorates and believe that local government should be just that. Contacting the City for service, now is a very frustrating excercise when it doesn’t go well to start with. It’s not all the fault of the people you front but the system is a bit like dealing with a fog.

      • Yes, absolute certainty.

        You say half decent candidate, I’m sorry but there is no viable candidate on the right.

        Not one. If you think I might be wrong, name one that has a chance against Phil?

      • unaha-closp

        Most right wingers will vote for Goff. His FTA with China and his well defined antagonism to the idiot left of the Labour Party assure him of grudging support.

  • Steve W (with a space)

    Len Brown was accused of a raft of imaginary rubbish by the dishonest party hacks on the Right. How anyone can vote for them is beyond me.

    Rates in Auckland aren’t high compared to other comparable cities in the developed world. If you have an $850,000 home in Toronto, your annual rates bill be around $8,000….not the $2,700 you’d be paying in Auckland. The same ratio applies to every city in Ontario, Canada that I looked at.

    Interestingly, because the property taxes are much higher, the price of the properties was much lower, despite mortgage interest rates around 2.5% – 3%. Property taxes eat up disposable income that might feed a mortgage.

    Imagine that. Higher property taxes resulting in lower house prices…and the money goes to provide amenities and services instead of dividends to bank shareholders.

    Put those rates UP! Now!!!

    • Canada also has income tax rates of 22% upto around $105k NZ and just 26% on incomes above that. It also has lower GST rates. Overall tax burden is about the same

      • Sailor Boy

        *Federal income taxes* you’re forgetting to add the provincial and often municipal taxes in Canada in.

      • Contrary to the usual neolib scaremongering that you have obviously swallowed hook line and sinker, NZ has the 2nd lowest effective tax rates in the OECD:

        http://www.oecd.org/newzealand/taxingwages-newzealand.htm

        Which would explain why we struggle to pay for decent infrastructure.

        • Stu Donovan

          From my reading that data relates solely to income taxes. Here’s my hunch for how we compare in terms of other taxes:
          – Sales taxes: Middle to high (mainly due to absence of exemptions)
          – Corporate taxes: Middle of pack, but probably relatively high for SE Asia (which arguably is most relevant?)
          – Land taxes: Low by OECD standards
          – Capital gains taxes: Non-existent
          – Inheritance taxes: Non-existence
          – Duties (e.g. cigarettes, alcohol): High

          Also worth noting that NZ funds a lot of infrastructure from what effectively are “hypothecated levies”. E.g. transport networks, electricity transmission network, and much wastewater/stormwater. This probably means we can get away with lower general tax rates, because we’re funding a lot of our infrastructure from what are effectively user charges administered by central/local government. Not necessarily a bad outcome, but it will show up as a low tax burden.

        • mfwic

          I think that is the tax wedge not taxes. We are something like 15th or 16th from the bottom on Tax Revenue and more like 5th highest on personal tax. https://data.oecd.org/tax/tax-on-personal-income.htm#indicator-chart .The tax wedge is the rate the tax burden discourages employers from hiring- I think.

          • According to that site, the tax wedge is “a measure of the difference between labour costs to the employer and the corresponding net take-home pay of the employee”.

            That seems like a pretty fair way to assess how much tax a worker actually pays.

          • mfwic

            The triangle in this diagram is a tax wedge. Consumers (in this case employers) use a lower quantity of labour because of the tax and suppliers (in this case workers) receive less and less people are employed. The OECD use a ratio of average tax to total labour costs as seen from the employers perspective. So in their plot a country with low tax rates has a lower wedge but also a country with higher labour costs has a lower tax wedge. In their words “The average tax wedge measures the extent to which tax on labour income discourages employment. This indicator is measured in percentage of labour cost.” https://data.oecd.org/tax/tax-wedge.htm#indicator-chart It is a good measure of the incentives to employ but not a good measure of the total tax rate people experience.

      • Steve Withers

        The tax picture in Canada is much more complicated. Ontario and Quebec also have provincial income taxes added to the Federal income taxes…and the “HST” is about 13%….compared to our 15%….and as already mentioned, land taxes are MUCH higher…..as in multiples…..than in NZ. That is largely due to education being funded from the land taxes and not income taxes…..so the overall effect may be neutral in terms of overall tax. But what isn’t neutral is the effect on property prices. My sister in Ottawa pays almost twice the rates I pay and her house is worth less than half what mine is worth. Unless she’s earning a tower of income (she isn’t), that HAS to be more expensive. But note…..the price on her house is lower mainly BECAUSE of the property taxes.

    • aucklanderinaus

      Not a fair comparison to compare council rates in NZ & Canada. In Canada, each city has its own police force, fire department, social housing etc and a lot more responsibilities than in NZ. They also fund public transport almost 100% themselves.These are paid from local taxes rather than general taxation.

    • Ricardo

      Steve you are confusing Canadian Land Taxes with our Rates. Some similar services, but many extra ones in Canada our rates don’t have to pay for that come from govt. Not apples and apples, but more apples and oranges. So not a fair comparison. Nice sensational headline, but no meat. Be nice for people to do some research before producing ‘facts’ that others latch onto and repeat.

      • Steve Withers

        Sure….but the point I was making was about the effect of land taxes on the price of the houses. However you want to slice it or dice it, higher land taxes results in lower house prices…and the money paid in tax can go to pay for amenities and services instead of shareholder dividends.

        That part stands alone – whatever the rationale for any specific tax / expenditure might be.

    • Ted F

      There was an interesting thread here on just this subject related to Paul Henry describing “Auckland Out of Control” the computer doesn’t agree. Or something like that. The facts that were presented in that discussion/blog were really interesting and I agree with the writer that the record was much better than I expected. I wasn’t in favour of amalgamation and I’m still not however the result is not as disastrous as I had expected particularly as the Central Government left Auckland with all the costs of their decision to amalgamate.

      • Steve Cable

        it is situation normal for central government (of any colour) to decree the tasks local government must fulfill and also to carry the costs, this then becomes a part of the stick used to beat local government as overblown, sloppy, costly and inefficient, dog control for example (responsibility of the Ccouncil, not just the mayor 😉 )

  • Evan James

    By and large, I think that Len has done rather well during his term as mayor of our fair city. Okay, so there is a disc jockey on the right with an ego the size of Africa who has been waging a constant campaign against him, and he may have not got back in last time if the “right” had put a a half decent candidate, and he is not all that photogenic when appearing on the stage on behalf of the people of Auckland, but I will certainly look back on his term as Mayor in a positive light.

  • unaha-closp

    Len Brown is better than John Banks.

  • JeffT

    Keep working right up till you leave office please, Len. There’s every chance we could get another wowser of the usual anti-development, “we can’t afford that” mindset that seems to be a feature of New Zealand. Lets get a proper CRL built without the cost-cutting.

  • Alex F

    I would find it ridiculous if Auckland voted to can the CRL in any attempt to get their rates down, considering most Aucklanders want this project to happen, many of them to start immediately… even the National government supports it (despite their timing for the funding being 5 years too late).
    Phil Goff, the high profile candidate for the mayoralty, supports the CRL considering his involvement with Generation Zero and indicated he would put more pressure on the government to start funding it sooner.
    The only people seemily opposed are a small group of moaners who form part of the Auckland Ratepayers Alliance, the vocal minority of peasants who want to pay as little as possible in exchange for a city that will cease to function in a few years time. Then there are some of the councillors, old fashioned neo-liberals like Brewer, Quax, Wood that nobody can take seriously who are their only supporters

  • JBM

    I am from South Auckland. If it wasn’t for his infidelity, the south would’ve still voted for him en masse. Especially if that twat John Banks was in any danger of returning to the Town Hall. Len Brown is the best thing to happen to Auckland public transport since forever.

  • Graeme Easte,

    Don’t make the mistake of presuming that the election of a reasonably progressive mayor will of itself determine the future direction of Council – there are 20 other votes around the Council table. Already Council is split down the middle on many issues (for example the 10-year plan with all that extra transport funding only just squeaked in) so it would only take the election of a couple of extra right wingers next year and the new mayor will be out-gunned most of the time. The right will be campaigning hard in 2016 to gain control of Council regardless of who is mayor. The media will focus almost entirely on the Mayoral contest so it is important to avoid getting sucked into personality politics and debate the real issues instead. We need to interrogate the stated policies of Council candidates, whether standing as individuals or tickets, and spread the word about who to vote for. This requires careful analysis and a dose of real politic – not automatically going for candidates with the most fantastically pro-public transport policies if they don’t also have a reasonable chance of actually getting elected – otherwise there could be a lot of well-intentioned votes being wasted.

    • conan

      Great point Graeme. We really need STV in the council election so you can vote for who you want. Through gritted teeth I voted for Mike Lee last time for the reasons you pointed out.

  • The Real Matthew

    What a laugh this article is.

    If Len had any integrity he would have resigned when his affair was made public. Len is a dirty, dirty man who is so arrogant he even contemplated seeking re-election despite being unelectable. But hey that’s what happens when you portray yourself as a family man yet are anything but.

    Instead of blaming the media for the single rating debacle lets talk about the real cause. Len couldn’t sell it. It’s not a complicated process but Len made it a complicated process by overseeing an incompetent group of staff who couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery.

    Then there was Len’s broken promise on rates. No rates rise above 2.5% said Len. Well there must be something crooked with Len’s calculator because out came a whopping 9.9% average rates rise for all of Auckland.

    Did I mention personal expenses paid to Len’s credit card? I wonder how many of those were for sexual supplies?

    Under Len’s watch we’ve had to endure a stadium merry-go-round debacle. Speedway moves to the league ground. league moves to the rugby ground. Rugby which is the cause of all the losses goes nowhere.

    Then there was the Unitary Plan – a complete and unmitigated disaster which has drawn complaints from all sides of the debate.

    Under Len’s watch AT has gone rogue, joining the war against cars instead of facilitating a multi-modal system.

    Len Brown will be remembered as a financially incompetent, morally bankrupt, leadership void rudderless fool. He will go down as the second worst mayor in Auckland’s history, almost knocking Dick Hubbard off his lofty perch. Goodbye and good riddance.

  • Lord Maths

    *** This comment has been edited for violating our user guidelines ***

    Transport: NO NEW BUS LANES in his first stint 2010-2013

    Other stuff:
    Did resource consent processing times drop?
    Did building consent processing times drop?
    Were there fewer dog attacks?
    Were there fewer food poisoning incidents from restaurants?
    Were there fewer complaints of homeless harassment?
    Did satisfaction with parks provision increase?
    Did loans-per-resident increase (libraries)?

    Here’s a hint: absolutely zero REALimprovement

    • conan

      These are good questions. Do you have the answers?

      • Lord Maths

        I do, they were rhetorical. “no” is the answer

        • conan

          Really? They look a little like you are trying to state facts without proving any evidence.

          • Lord Maths

            Hi Conan
            Go pull the numbers. AC annual reports (actually, pull the legacy ARs too)

            End of the day… Len hasn’t done shit for AC except big vanity project. CRL is good but is it worth more than say a 50A% reduction in dog attacks or 10 day building consent times?

          • conan

            You are trying to prove something here, suggest you ‘go pull the numbers’.

          • Stu Donovan

            Conan the Conqueror! Completely agree: The onus is on those who claim “facts” to provide supporting evidence. On this basis, Lord Math’s claims must be considered to be “unproven”.

        • Nick R

          Book lending per resident? Seriously. So Len Brown is now responsible for the digital media revolution is he? You give the guy too much credit!

          Libraries are way better now anyway. Single library system with access across all of them, electronic check out desks are way faster, and every time I go to the city there’s someone at the door offering to help me out. Plus the new Devonport library is fantastic. Can’t see why you’re griping about libraries.

  • Lord Maths

    I can’t wait for Phil. As a former minister he will set hard targets not waffle and the good departments will thrive and the rubbish will go. Hopefully any former Aecom rubbish leaves

    • Guy

      Hmmmm. I deduce from that, that you’re not an employee from Aecom. Maybe you’re from an opposing company? Regardless – holding the Mayor personally responsible for dog attacks, book lending, resource consent processing, food poisoning incidents, homeless harassment etc seems a little harsh. Did he make these central planks to his election?

      • Lord Maths

        Hi Guy
        The Minister of Police is responsible for crime rates.
        Len is in control of all of the units I mentioned above. Instead of waffling about vibrancy perhaps he should focus resources on positive social outcomes and diverting sufficient outputs towards those outcomes.
        I don’t care about sunshine and lollipops. I want our defence force to be able to contribute to relevant operations, our cops to reduce crime, MFAT to improve international trade and influence, WINZ to improve employment rates, and so on.

  • Peter Nunns

    Great article Matt. I also think that history will be kind to Len. Credit where credit is due: he steered a reasonably clear path through a lot of challenging issues.

    I haven’t always agreed with where Council got to on some issues, but I appreciate that they’ve generally been making progress on the big issues facing the city. That wouldn’t have been possible without good leadership.

    I also think that it’s a real shame that Len’s work has been overshadowed (in the short term at least) by a sex scandal. I’m not interested in politicians’ private lives – how they’re doing the job is far more important – and it sort of creeps me out that the media spent so much time poring over the details.

    • Peter, I know what you and Matt mean by ‘history will be kind to Brown’ but I don’t think that’s the best way to put it. What history tends to become over time is more accurate, which is what you mean, and when the record of his mayoralty is considered dispassionately it will be seen for its actual achievements and failures or missed opportunities. And frankly, especially in the context of setting up the amalgamated Council, and as Matt outlines above, there are very few of the later. Or at least the one big missed opportunity is personal to Brown himself; he limited himself to the two terms entirely through his own actions in his affair. But this is not a missed opportunity for the city itself but is classically tragic for Brown, in fact is the textbook example of tragedy; downfall through self-undoing.

      Anyway. That is neither here or there in terms of what matters for the city, like you I am sure these two terms will be seen as absolutely pivotal in moving Auckland forward to its new status as a city, out-growing its clumsy bloated provincial town phase. Interestingly in the comments above and especially this morning’s absurd Herald editorial it is the suburbanists and nostalgists that are so beside themselves with rage about Brown. I don’t think either of you expect or are asking for him or any other politician to judged kindly, but just without the irrational cruelty than is evident from some quarters. After all the policies from these two terms will only intensify from here; there is no way back. Brown has set the SuperCity off in a good direction and there is actually no other viable course on offer nor any credible candidate formulating it.

      Brown’s articulation of and and steadfast commitment to a vision of a united Auckland has been vital. His deal making skills impressive especially in the context of Council with many agendas and, frankly, highly variable skill levels and a mostly hostile, condescending, and disinterested central government. At times of course the deal doing has meant the actual execution of the vision has become compromised, but it will ever be thus. Now the weight of this announcement is lifted I look forward to a steely-eyed final year. The foundation has already been achieved; the future for Auckland is bright, and in time Brown’s role will be properly judged as pivotal in setting this up.

  • I came here to watch right-wing astroturf trolls The Real Matthew and mfwic go nuts, especially with their prurient interest in Len Brown’s sex life, and was not disappointed. 😀 TRM’s bizarre belief that “sexual supplies” (what are those??? condoms? Taxi chits for Bevan Cheung) would be much more terrible to put on a mayoral credit card than fish ‘n’ chips speaks volumes.

    • Lord Maths

      *** This comment has been edited for violating our user guidelines ***

      • Alex F

        At least he achieved more than you have

      • Peter Nunns

        What on earth is your fixation with dog attacks? You remind me of a story I heard about my mom’s great-uncle, who hired my dad one summer during uni to go and check the licenses of all the dogs in Takapuna. He had some weird theory that there were heaps of poms with unlicensed dogs in the borough.

        Dad didn’t find a single unlicensed dog, of course…

        • Lord Maths

          Hi Peter
          Local government in NZ is responsible for animal management. Not central government.
          As such the rate of dog atttacks in Auckland is entirely Len’s responsibility. As is resource consent processing times. As are the number of people using our recreation facilities.
          Even John Key, who I despise, would never abandon governmental responsibilities.

          • Stu Donovan

            Do you think that’s an over-simplification?

            Central government passes legislation, such as RMA, under which local government must then operate. It’s not accurate to suggest that Council’s are solely responsible for consent processing times, as they need to comply with the RMA, which in turn is legislation defined by CG.

            From what I can tell it’s the interaction between the RMA and District Plans that determines consent processing times. Or to put it another way, if the RMA didn’t exist then it seems possible local councils would process consents faster …

          • Max

            “Even John Key, who I despise, would never abandon governmental responsibilities.”

            You mean like protecting NZ citizens overseas?

    • mfwic

      Very pleased I could live up to your preconceived ideas Daphne.

  • Evan James

    Anyone wanting to really know what the candidates think and intend to do has got a big problem in Auckland – the local media just isn’t interested. Go out of Auckland, and local body elections are big news and extensively covered in the local media. You get to know what the candidates’ views are on the various subjects, even what they have for breakfast. But I now live in the Central Leader’s area, and other than thumb nail portraits of the candidates, probably supplied by the candidates themselves, there has been virtually no coverage of any elections since I shifted up here in 1981.

  • Scott M

    Yes the CRL is important. But should we build it at any cost?

    That is the sort of analysis Len lacked. The CRL wasnt even his idea, it was just something he latched onto for political purposes.

    • conan

      No, it is only selected reading projects that get built at any cost. The CRL will cost around $2.5b

      Len gas done way more than latched onto the CRL for political purposes. There are spades in the ground from mid next year. That is way more an anyone has achieved in 100 years of trying.

      • Scott M

        I will be more explicit. The CRL is not a project that the COUNCIL can afford. Unless we dont want AT to build anything else for the next 10 years. There never seems to be a shortage of ideas, just no body checking whether those ideas are affordable. Or as Peter Nunns would ask “what is the opportunity cost” of that spending.

        CRL should be government funded and they should stop dragging their heels.

  • RJ

    I hope there is someone who will run that will continue the PT aspect of Len Brown’s Mayoralty.

    • Goff will essentially continue the direction of the current council, with other nuances, but there is no alternative vision offered by anyone credible. Even Brown’s most giddy frothing critics have never articulated any policy; only ever; ‘not-Brown’. It’s pathetic.

      • conan gorbey

        Yes Mark Thomas is pretty much going to have to rewrite his entire website to take out all the things Brown is doing wrong as clearly he can’t be a the target anymore.

        And some of the burning issues he will fix are bizarre, Trans-National organised crime is planting unauthorised lemons apparently.

        5) Trans-national organised crime

        Council’s inflexibility and non-responsiveness are causing residents to flout the rules. Illegal berm plantings are blooming in parts of central Auckland, unauthorised lemon trees are appearing in suburban town centres and unapproved pavement stenciling has been done on the pavements of Otara and Mangere.

        I’d love to see a strong candidate appear on the right that had actual costed policies on driving the city forward in the way they though best so we have an honest race. If Mark is the best the right can do they haven’t got a chance.

        • Lord Maths

          Good public policy doesn’t need costed proposals. You state the desired goal and if enough people agree and vote for you, you have the mandate to spend on those goals (potentially by draining $$$ from other areas)

          • Stu Donovan

            Doesn’t the verification of public policy involve an understanding of what $$$ are being spent to achieve what outcome?

          • Nigel Owen

            I’m not going to vote for someone who doesn’t have any idea on how much their policies will cost or how they will be funded

  • Tony

    Outside the metro area he’ll be remembered for approximately 3/5ths of *** not much ****

    • Steve C

      I object to your choice of language

    • So 90% of the population will be remember him? I think he would be happy with that.

      • Tony

        And the rest will get left out in the cold. So much for representation.

        • Max

          That’s democracy. Some people will vote for the other person and spend the rest of the incumbency complaining.

          Also, take it to Rodney Hide and John Key if you think the rural areas shouldn’t have been incorporated. You know, the bloke who was the minister responsible, and the bloke who was the prime minister and IS still the prime minister and who put the first bloke into said position of power?

          Also, the way the complaints are going, *I* would happily vote to let the rural areas go their own way! We could concentrate on things here then, without having our homegrown version of the rest of New Zealand complaining Aucklanders take too much of the taxes / rates when the reality is we get less per capita.

          • conan gorbey

            You can support these guys. I wish them well as I’d love to see them face the reality of the costs of running a small council with a large roading network. Rodney came into the super city with the highest debt per capita. They don’t seem to have factored into taking that back with them.

            http://www.nag.org.nz/index.html

        • Rural people always seem to be complaining about how hard they have it. I tuned out long ago.

  • Owen Thompson

    I will always remember Brown sold out the wharfies. Yet when it suits he parades around the fact of being a Labour member.

  • Ari

    I voted for Len in 2010 because John Banks was a racist. I voted the second time for him because hadn’t screwed up too much and the other guy made sushi or something. That’s about it.

    The fact that Len was about to get the majority of 20 other councillors to go along with him is a testament to his ability to build consensus and get things done. This is no easy job. You can get a someone with with great ideas as mayor and get nothing done because the other councillors say no.

    Personally I think the super-city has been a disaster. Some good, some bad and mostly status quo at greater cost than previous. Council is dysfunctional and so are the COO’s. Typical ineffective, inefficient public departments that waste so much money.

    • ‘Personally I think the super-city has been a disaster. Some good, some bad and mostly status quo at greater cost than previous. Council is dysfunctional and so are the COO’s. Typical ineffective, inefficient public departments that waste so much money’

      That’s an evidence free assertion. Rates go up with property value; the Council has not caused this. Just in terms of transport alone the difference pre and post amalgamation is huge; and hugely positive. I shake my head in disbelief that anyone can look at the city now and say it’s been a disaster. Very odd.

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